Rights commission calls for Magdalene laundries inquiry

The Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has today called on the Government to hold an immediate statutory inquiry into the treatment of women and children in the Magdalene laundries.

The Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has today called on the Government to hold an immediate statutory inquiry into the treatment of women and children in the Magdalene laundries.

The State has always said it has no responsibility for the women involved when it comes to redress as the Launderies were privately run by religious orders.

However, a report by the IHRC says the State regularly used the institutions to detain women and children.

Commissioner with the IHRC, Olive Braiden, said the State is the onlt body that can obtain the records held by the religious orders, and time is against the victims.

“Only the State can uncover those records by holding an inquiry,” said Braiden.

“The reason we say ‘immediate’ is because many of these women are in advanced years.”

Survivor advocacy group Justice for Magdalenes (JFM) welcomed the findings, and echoed the call for a formal inquiry.

Dr Katherine O’Donnell, dDirector of UCD’s Women’s Studies Centre and member of JFM’s Advisory Committee saiid: “In the midst of an economic crisis that seems to challenge the sovereignty of our State, Irish citizens are daily asking – what kind of social values do we want, what kind of society do we want our children to inherit?

“In the spirit of these concerns, JFM asks this current Government to show the leadership requested by the IHRC and to immediately apologise and begin the process of acknowledging and ultimately understanding our very recent dark history.”

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